‘24.2 per cent of Ghanaians live below the poverty line, 70 percent of them in the Northern, Upper Western and Upper East Regions… Here, six out of ten households farm on small plots of land (five acres or less) with production capacity barely at subsistence level.’
My name is Muhsin Ismail, a 27-year-old man from Tamale, Ghana. I am a teacher, IT student and a new farmer.
Growing up as a child in Northern Ghana, every household farm was aimed at feeding itself. This is still the major trend of farming for most households: cultivate to feed the family. Yet the perception is that farming is meant for the uneducated.
So, in an era when there are no white-collar jobs, school-trained people remain jobless while shunning the thought of venturing into farming.
TechFarm is an initiative that aims at bringing more people into agriculture directly and indirectly. TechFarm will use crowd-funding technique to enable young people venture into agriculture without negatively affecting their main livelihoods. I already have the commitment of 14 other friends interested in participating in crowed funded farming.
The TechFarm initiative will work in two ways;
- Members of the crowed fund who can engage directly in agriculture will establish their farms in groups or individually.
- Members who will not be able to involve directly in farming will use their funds add capacity to other small-scale farmers to increase their capacities to commercial levels.
In the 2014/15 farming season, I serendipitously did a one-acre yam farm in a nearby village and ended up a 174% profit. According my calculations, diminishing returns may only set in after an estimated GHS 45,000 (USD 11,250) investment mark. But this can be extended almost infinitely if the crops are diversified.
In the 2015/16 farming season, three friends joined in as we crowd funded, this time, a three-acre farm. Returns were even better than my previous year’s experience.
In the 2016/17 year, we intend to bring in more members onboard.
With USD 5,000, participants will receive exactly the amount they are able to raise themselves for farming up to GHS 800 (USD 200) per person. Participants are free to choose the crops they wish to cultivate guided by the Soil Compatibility Map released by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority recently.
We are 100% sure that after initial YAP funding, most participants should not need external funding except if they want a huge increment in investment.
Most of my friends are ICT savvy and we have agreed to use some of the funding to source relevant content for our existing bulk SMS platform. The platform will send timed and automated text messages to remind us of times for fertilizer applications, weedicide applications, and other agronomic activities.
The USD 5,000 will be applied in the following areas:
- Collate and distribute relevant agric-specific information to participating young people.
- Link up with public funded agricultural extension services.
- Purchasing of improved seedlings, yam setts and fertilizer.
- Minimal administrative fees for mentoring, training and monitoring.
- Setup pilot programmes for other agricultural activities such as livestock and poultry.
We can make greater impact by bringing together the little we all have.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Muhsin Ismail (Ghana): muhsingenius[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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